My journey to Mexico is a lot different than most. First of all, I had never been to Mexico before I moved here. Did I mention that I came with my wife? If you know me, you know Christie. We have been together since I was 16, and we were married when I was 18. Did I mention we have four children, and that they were 7-12 when we moved here? In case you think it was a shotgun marriage, I was 20 when our first child was born.
There are some who think my life must have been horrible to have just packed up and moved to Mexico. This is so far from the truth! We had a phenomenal home based business, a great church, an awesome church family (many of them have visited us here in Mexico). We had a great life in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada…but I knew there was more for us.
From the time I was a little kid, I hated winter! I’d love to say that hate is too strong a word but I couldn’t look you in the eye and say otherwise. My feet and hands were always cold…as were other parts that don’t need mentioning (but I guess I just did). I hated waking up in the dark, going to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark. We even made a “winter room” for me. It had a huge window with white walls and maple flooring. I would just lay in the sun and Christie would make the kids stay away until their crazy father got his sun fill.
Did I mention I also hate winter? Anyways, all I would do is complain about how short the summer was and how cold it was all year round! I must sound like a very wimpy Canadian (I am Canadian) to the point of being un-Canadian. I knew I wanted to live somewhere warm…someday. Always that “someday” thing. I have heard SO many people tell me what they are going to do “someday”…sorry, I am jumping ahead of myself.
September 11, 2001 is probably one of the worst days in modern history. Many lives were lost in the U.S. and, coincidentally, it was that event that caused me to lose my job. How does a Director of an Incentive and Motivation company lose his job…in Red Deer, Alberta? It’s easy – it was a family business and my name wasn’t the same as the owners. They lost a ton of cash from cancelled travel groups because the world wimped out and temporarily let the terrorists win…but I digress.
I didn’t actually lose my job on that day. They asked me to take a 20% cut in pay so I could keep my job. My wife stayed at home to raise our kids and I was the only bread winner…what could I do? I took the pay cut. Fast forward to December 31, 2001, my last day of work. My parting gift was a chat with my boss (a man that I really did respect, and still do) telling me that this will probably be good for me. Turns out he must have thought being financially devastated would teach me a thing or two (he never really thought THAT, but I was mad). *As an aside, I did call him back a few years ago (coincidentally on his 50th birthday) to let him know he was right…it WAS the best thing for me!
What does this have to do with Mexico real estate? Hang on, I’m getting there.
What do you think this hater of the cold did to console himself? If you said “go ice fishing” you’d have been right. As a kid I loved to be out on the ice. When you see the water from under the shack, the lake is like a vast aquarium for you to participate in. I had lived in Sylvan Lake for 3 years and had not taken the time to ice fish (too busy wearing a suit at work). I went with a buddy and we had a fantastic day. I did this every day until I got the call.
On January 18th, after another great day of ice fishing (I don’t think I ever caught any fish) the phone rang. It was my stepmother, Penny, calling from B.C. She told me my dad was dead. I told her, “No he’s not!” She replied that he was. Again I said no, almost laughing at this very odd joke. Christie said that she didn’t think that Penny was joking.
Here was my conundrum. My dad said for many years that “someday” he was getting a sailboat and that he and Penny would sail it from Prince Rupert and go up and down the Pacific coast. He believed this so much that I believed him too. He included the kids, Christie and myself in his future travels – I couldn’t wait! My dad couldn’t be dead, he had not yet done all the things he said he was going to do. But, he really was dead. He could have even had his dang boat years earlier (he only wanted a little one).
There are some of you that think, “Aha!”, that’s how he did it. He got an inheritance and that is how he was able to bring his wife and 4 kids to Mexico. Wrong! My inheritance was an old turtle lamp that sits by by Christie’s side of the bed. The turtle lamp is a reminder of my dad and also the beginning of a terrible addiction by my wife…her new need to collect turtles. Statues, knick knacks, key chains, anything turtle. We even have 11 living turtles now (couldn’t do that in Canada).
What my dad did give me was a kick in the pants. When he died it was the most terrible wonderful thing that every happened to me. He made me realize (at the ripe old age of 31) that we are NOT promised a tomorrow. Credence Clearwater Revival had a song that went “someday never comes”. It was time to start living life on my terms, even though I was unemployed, broke, losing my “possessions” bit by bit (dang lenders wanted their stuff back) and had no “real job” prospects.
I could have felt sorry for myself but I knew I could fix this problem. I made a BUNCH of money for both of my previous employers and now it was time to take care of my family. I started a little jewelry business to pay the bills. Our friends were so concerned that they would tell Christie that they are praying so I could get a “real job”. I never wanted a real job again. I was happy being with my family all day (although it took my family some time to get used to it).
Full disclosure: My wife did NOT want to move to Mexico. After my dad died, I told EVERYONE that we were moving to Mexico. Christie would be right behind me telling them “Uhhhh, no, we’re not!”
I didn’t know how bad it was until, months later, we drove to Christie’s folk’s house to tell them we were moving. I won’t tell you everything that was said but one part that stuck out was when her mom said that Christie had promised we would never go to Mexico…after I had just reminded everyone that this is all I had been telling everyone for almost 18 months).
When I was younger, Mexico wasn’t my dream, the warmth was. I honestly believed I would move to California or Florida. I had been to Florida when I was 12 and THAT was when I promised myself that “someday” I would live in a place like that (although I didn’t remember that moment in time until sitting in the couch at a local car rental agency…5 years after living here). Mexico was MORE than a dream in 2001. It was this whisper that kept entering my imagination and calling my name. I had never been there before yet I longed to call this place my home.
By now you have figured out that Christie finally changed her mind. I’d love to say that it was my incredible powers of persuasion, or that she was a wife that wanted what her husband wanted but c’mon, you heard what her mom said she said. No, this was a God thing, and it was awesome.
All while she was saying “No” to Mexico, we kept meeting these amazing people that lived, or were living in Mexico (when the student is ready, the master appears). We heard from many different people that Bucerias is the place we needed to be. That sounded like the place we were meant to be…Bucerias. We knew it was outside of Puerto Vallarta…and that is all we knew. In fact, we didn’t even know where it was until 3 MONTHS before our move…we didn’t even know there were mountains here until 3 WEEKS before we moved – remember, we had never been to Mexico!
We sold our little businesses for a small amount of money, moved to a country we had never been to and where they spoke a different language. Our friends mostly thought we were crazy. The ones that didn’t think we were crazy figured we’d be back in a year. “Someday” never comes for most folks but I was not going to listen to them. Mexico is where we were supposed to be! THAT was almost 13 years ago!
Before we moved, I had taken the Alberta real estate course and got my real estate license. I knew there were no licensing requirements to sell real estate, in Mexico, but I also knew that my quickest way to credibility was to be educated in what the Canadians and Americans would expect me to know. I went to a few conferences (one of them, thanks to John Malpass – love you brother) to get as much knowledge in my head as possible. It has come in handy for my clients here – especially the sellers!
Still waiting for Mexico real estate stuff? Are you heartless? I am spilling my guts here.
The night before we were to leave, we had about 15-20 of our friends come over to eat cake and pie and send us off. The problem was, our house deal fell through THAT AFTERNOON. It would appear we were in a bind because our house was a disaster, the deal fell apart, and it looked like someday might never come for us too.
Real friends are the people you can call and they will help you with ANYTHING you ask. Super friends are the one’s you don’t even have to ask…they offer first. At midnight our “Super” friends came up with a solution. They would come back the next morning and help us pack, clean our home AND sell the house for us.
“Aha”…THAT’s where they got the money – they sold their house in Sylvan Lake! Sorry, it was before the prices went crazy.
I had mentioned that I would “tell everyone we were moving to Mexico”. That wasn’t completely true. Christie would not let me tell anyone we were moving without getting into a big fight. AFTER she was on side, then WE told everyone!
We would be selling our jewelry and airbrush tattoos at the Farmer’s Market and we would tell everyone who would listen. Thousands of people said they wished they could do it…kids, family, work, house, blah, blah, blah…that’s what held them back. ”Someday ” they might but not now. Only ONE lady said she would love to but the thing holding her back was…FEAR! Finally an honest person! There were literally thousands of people that said they wanted to do what we were doing but they made every excuse in the book…just like my dad.
I hope you are starting to see where the Mexico real estate thing is starting to enter the picture.
We moved here and felt we were “home” the moment we arrived. We love it more than you can imagine. The kids adjusted so well that they are all fluent in Spanish (although we still don’t speak it that much). It is not perfect here all the time, but I am genuinely happy to be here and really never see myself moving back “north”. A guy I met brought up a good point. He said that all these tourists save their money to come to Mexico for a week or two and they are so sad when they have to go home. Even if we have a “bad day”, we are still having it in paradise…he was so right.
That is EXACTLY how I feel. I love this place so much and I really do feel that I am saving my client’s LIVES when they finally buy a home in Mexico. I have been selling Mexico real estate since the beginning of 2004 and believe I have the best job on earth. I wake up when I want, choose who I work with and fire those that don’t hold to the same level of loyalty and commitment that I do. If you honestly want to explore this Mexico thing and make it yours, email me TODAY because “Someday” is just a promise that can be broken at any time – live for today!
If we can pack up a young family and move to a country that we had never been to before, didn’t speak the language, had very little money – then what is your excuse? Christie and I are no better than you. We just chose to act because we realized that life is too short to just “settle for”. Why settle for what you have when the world has so much more for you? Don’t wait for your kick in the pants, or worse, BE the kick in the pants for someone else (like my dad was for me). If you want to chat about moving to Mexico, call me. Heck, I want to help you so much that you can call me for free at 1-888-5-MEXICO
I also kept an Alberta phone number. You can call me at 780-628-EXIT (exit, as in get me the heck out of Edmonton). I even have a USA cell number too – 602-373-5624.
My name is John Forget. I sell Mexico real estate, and I’m here to help you!
“We are meant to be the authors of our own story. If you gave the pen to someone else…take it back! ” – John
This article was originally published in October, 2010.